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THE NEGOTIATOR ($29) is an absolutely superior thriller that I canít recommend highly enough. THE NEGOTIATOR stars Samuel L. Jackson as Danny Roman, one of the Chicago police departmentís top hostage negotiators. Roman has a reputation as a maverick, a man who doesnít always play by the rules, yet he always gets the job done. Days after a news making negotiation, Roman finds himself framed for embezzlement and murder. Trying to get at the truth, Roman enters the police departmentís internal affairs office so he can talk to the one man who may hold all the answers. Things escalate out of control and Roman is forced to take a few strategic hostages, a situation that he hopes will help him smoke out the real criminals. Members of Romanís team want to talk him down, but since he suspects that some of them may be dirty, Roman specifically requests another well-known police negotiator- one that hails from another division of the department.

THE NEGOTIATOR also stars Kevin Spacey as Chris Sabian, the negotiator, requested by Danny Roman. THE NEGOTIATOR plays like a game of chess, with both negotiators countering the moves of the other as they try to get at the truth. Both Samuel L. Jackson and Kevin Spacey deliver powerhouse performances, which greatly enhances the story and increases oneís overall enjoyment of the film. The strong supporting cast of THE NEGOTIATOR also features David Morse, Ron Rifkin, John Spencer, J.T. Walsh, Regina Taylor, Siobhan Fallon, Paul Guilfoyle, Bruce Beatty, Michael Cudlitz, Carlos Gůmez and the always entertaining Paul Giamatti. Director F. Gary Gray keeps the suspense high and the pace rapid fire, which makes the film seem shorter than its two hour twenty minute running time.

Warner Home Video has made THE NEGOTIATOR available on Blu-ray Disc in a 2.35:1 aspect ratio presentation that has been encoded onto the disc with the VC-1 codec. I have to say I was thoroughly impressed by the 1080p presentation that has been afforded to THE NEGOTIATOR. Despite being over ten years old, THE NEGOTIATOR has a very strong, dynamic appearance in high definition. Almost all of the time, the image appears very sharp, highly defined and quite dimensional. Fine details, like the lines and imperfections in the actorsí faces are impressive, as are other textures. Colors are generally vibrant and the image produces true to life flesh tones. Blacks are inky, while the whites are clean and crisp. Contrast and shadow detail are pretty much first rate. The elements from which THE NEGOTIATOR has been transferred appear are very clean. Some mild grain is present in the image.

THE NEGOTIATOR is presented on Blu-ray Disc with a 5.1 channel Dolby TrueHD soundtrack. My impressions of the sound remain similar to that of the sound of the DVD, although the lossless encode adds more oomph to the track. As much of the film is a talky negotiation, between the lead characters, the forward hemisphere dominates in many sequences- those that are sans the filmís action set pieces. That being said, the front soundstage is tremendous and the rear channels are well deployed to create an enveloping sound field that draws the viewer into every situation. Sound effects swirl around through the discrete channels during the action sequences. Bass is robust and provides the necessary force and impact. Dialogue remains clean throughout, and is never overpowered by anything else. English, French, Spanish and Italian Dolby Digital 5.1 channel tracks are also encoded onto the disc. Subtitles are available in English, French, Spanish, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, Italian, Norwegian and Swedish.

The interactive menus allow one access to the standard scene selection and set up features, as well as the extras, which have been ported from the earlier DVD release. Two Featurettes have been included. The first is an On Location: Making Of that offers a look behind-the-scenes, and features interviews with director, F. Gary Gray, production designer Holger Gross, director of photography Russell Carpenter, and producers David Hoberman and David Nicksay. The second is entitled The 11th Hour: Stories From Real Negotiators, and features an interview with a real life hostage negotiator.

I have been a fan of THE NEGOTIATOR since it was originally released. The Blu-ray offers a terrific upgrade for fans of this terrific thriller. Recommended.



The Negotiator [Blu-ray] (1998)


DVD & Blu-rayDisc reviews are Copyright © 2009 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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